Here’s a link to my actual review of this movie. Because of my new miniseries “Fucked Up YA Movies” and a poll I put up, I decided to rewatch this movie. I’m not going to write an actual review again because that would be monotonous, but I am going to take a critical look at the movie and point out some of the major faux pas that killed it and other YA adaptions:
1) Poor Direction: Without a doubt, that’s what I really noticed about this film the second go around. And I notice that this is an important factor in any YA adaption. The director affects the mood of the movie. You can see this very prominently in the Harry Potter films. While the director that the film studio hired has done some decent films, I just don’t agree with his vision for City of Bones. It was almost as if he wanted to do a throwback to the 80’s. Which is fine, but City of Bones is not the film to do this with. If you want to throwback anything, throwback Harry Potter. That’s how Clare made her killing.
2) Author Control: The amount of control Cassandra Clare has is debatable, based on what you read from Clare’s blog before and after the film aired. Regardless, of what version you believe, I think having too much or too little control in a book vs movie adaption makes a horrible movie. While it is true authors know their world inside and out, they don’t know film making. I think having a balance between director and author control is essential. While I do think an author should have some insight in the casting, I don’t think they should say be there for the casting. Perhaps someone who might look the part might not act the part, and while a casting director might recognize this an author who has ideas of her characters based on numerous fan art posted on her Tumblr probably won’t.
3) Use of Special Effects: I read somewhere that the director wanted to use old school effects and this actually made me excited. I hate some of the newer CGI stuff, see the wolves in the Twilight movies. But, and this is a big but, they didn’t utilize what made old school effects great. Instead, the special effects that were given were down right cheesy. Case in point: the big kissing scene. Those effects just added cheese onto more cheese. It’s a kissing scene. A kiss is supposed to be magical on its own accord. Having to use some cheap lighting, a rain machine, a fake bird, and some flowers that suddenly bloom when the two characters exchange saliva is just pushing it.
4) Miscast: Let’s face it, this film was seriously miscast. Especially when it comes to Jace. I don’t have anything against Jaime Campbell Bower, but he is not leading man material for a teeny bopper flick. That’s not a bad thing. He does have an interesting face. A very interesting face where he could be very successful at doing films that actually have value. But to be a teenage item of lust, not so much. Though that’s what they try to push him as in this movie. Also, I just really couldn’t see him and Collins as a couple which is sad because they were dating in real life. To be fair to him though, he made the best out of the script he was given. But dude, get some shampoo on that head of yours, pronto. Interestingly enough, miscasting seems to be called out every time a YA adaption is made. However, I don’t think it happens that much. Sure, Robert Pattinson might not look like Henry Cavill (Meyer’s ideal Edward),but he was able to embody the part and the studio helped enough by styling him as Edward and giving him something to work with. Poor Jamie though, he never had a chance.
5) The Score: Oh. Dear. Lord. I don’t think people often realize the importance of the score. It really can make or break a movie. Especially when you take the score and use it at inappropriate times. The music is supposed to compliment the movie not overwhelm it like in the case of City of Bones. Often I feel like music is used to hide the flaws in these movie. Once again, I’m going to refer back to The Princess Diaries 2 and its five thousand montages.
6) Sour Script: To be fair they didn’t have much to work with. But some of the dialogue was so unnecessary and just bogged down the movie I wanted to get a red pen out and start marking things off the script. It’s actually a problem you see in lots of YA movies, but other movies are able to hide their atrocious
7) It shouldn’t have been adapted in the first place: I really believe that the Shadowhunter series never should’ve been a movie in the first place. Just like I believe that there are many YA series out there that should not mean that all of them should be adapted into a movie. This is one of those series that I think has way too much going on where it couldn’t be a decent adaption,unless major alterations were done. It probably also doesn’t help the series that it is essentially a watered down version of Harry Potter+Twilight. Even people who were unaware of Clare’s fandom past, commented on how the series tried t ride the coattails of other popular YA series. People go to the movies to watch something new, watching a poor cardboard copy of something that’s already been released and sadly that’s what The City of Bones is.